Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Not Helpless in California

Right off the bat I will tell you that this particular blog is not entertainment related. This is one of those moments in my life where I have to say something and really entertainment pales in comparison to this topic

I don't think I stand alone when I say I have never felt so helpless at any time in my life when it comes to life in America. I woke up sick with a cold this morning and I had to stop for once in a long time. When I was able to drag myself to the living room couch I turned on the only channel that I clearly received with my super cyborg rabbit ears. The broadcast lottery wheel decided to land on "Today" and "Regis & Kelly". Before R&K ended, I sat through no less than ten political ads in one break. As I watched I found myself getting angry, and not because of the ridiculous quantity of ads that I waded through. These politicians may actually be heroes or villains in reality but today's political advertising is so bad that no one will ever know the truth. One ad will paint Meg Whitman as the enemy while the next one touts her a great human being and businesswoman. I mention Meg Whitman because she is a businesswoman from the tech world moving into the political arena. The true fact is, that based on these ads, no one really knows anything substantial.

For example here is a frustrating scenario: Candidate for California Governor Meg Whitman, former CEO of EBAY,  fired her housekeeper of ten years when she found out her employee was an illegal. At first look this sounds like typical politics. It looks as though Ms. Whitman dumped her trash so that she looked better as a candidate for Governor. Now I can see this side but what about this side: When researching before running for Governor, Meg Whitman found that the documents her housekeeper used to apply for the job were fake. What would you do? In other words you find that an employee that has access to your home, your children and your valuables every day used a stolen Social Security number and falsified documents to LIE TO YOU for your money and trust, what would you do? Remember, the person who owns that SS number is also a victim of identity fraud. I guess if you are perfect, you keep that person in your employ, forgive them and dismiss their CRIMES and get elected right?. The fact is if Meg Whitman had kept her housekeeper employed she would still be on the chopping block for employing an illegal. Make no mistake, this will be exploited by her opponent either way. The bottom line: YOU CAN'T WIN IN POLITICS.

I got to thinking that through the internet, we as "the regular people" have more of an instant influence on media and government than at any other time in history, yet we live day-to-day hopeless and angry at the people we put in government. We take what they give us which is nothing but empty promises, as well as a few scandals now and again and ACCEPT IT. Now don't forget, they (Politicians) are not sacrificing, nor are the special interest groups, WE, THE PEOPLE THEY WORK FOR ARE. How many businesses do you know of where the employees live better than the employers? While most of us are cutting back only to struggle more, the California government can't decide by a deadline how to spend our money and so government grunts living like you and I don't get paychecks. If I'm late for a deadline, I get fired folks, and my job doesn't affect lives of families.

The US was founded on the rights to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness for all Americans.  But what kind of life do we have when our liberties and our ability to pursue happiness are taxed away and squandered so that we can pay banks off for being crooked? This is not living, this is not liberty and how many of you are happy, or even have hope of future happiness? There is only one solution then... Take it back. Legally, peacefully and with integrity, take it back. If you have a keyboard and an internet connection get to it. Your words mean something and OUR words mean a lot more.

If groups on Facebook can get shows back on the air and twitterbugs can get things done in Hollywood, why can't it work with government. Votes put these people in office, and your voice represents a vote. OUR VOICES REPRESENT VOTES. Respectfully voice your anger at the politicians that piss you off, and get others to join in with you. Tell them they shouldn't be spending your money on big dinners and trips when your school doesn't have paper. Politicians usually have e-mail addresses and websites, some of them are even on Twitter and Facebook. Now is the time to speak (in text form), because the current system is broken and the old ways can't fix it.

As I talk about this now, I will be working on a way to practice what I preach, but don't wait for me or anyone else to get our butts in gear. Get to it and let me know what you are doing.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Remember That Time Terrorists Crashed Into Us?

It seems like just nine years ago I was waking up to a phone call about planes crashing in New York. It was 7am for me but already an hour or so into the nightmare for New Yorkers. My family sat in amazement in front of the tv as I explained to my three young boys that America was undoubtedly on the verge of war. I drove to work that morning in a daze and immediately brought Yahoo up on my computer when I got settled at my desk. At the time I worked with one other person in my office and we were glued to the internet and unproductive all day long. Stories of death, destruction, fear and terrorism filtered in on my screen all day long.
The Pentagon was on fire, a plane in Pittsburgh nosedived and every flying vehicle in America was grounded. President Bush was in transit after he finished his kids book and no one knew where he was for safety reasons. VP Cheney was in deep cover at the White House and the rest of us wondered what was next.
Later the towers fell and terror gripped New York as well as the rest of the country. Our symbols of finance and success were no more. Another nearby building fell and the stories of “Ground Zero” began to dominate every news station on tv. New Yorkers covered in drywall dust walked the streets like ghosts in limbo, unsure of what had become of their city.
We heard stories of heroism in the air and on the ground. Answering machine messages of lost loved ones were played over the news. Pictures of people jumping from the towers were aired and then pulled because they were too disturbing for the public to see. As a side note, don’t you think we’ve kept ourselves from reality in the news for too long. We can watch teenagers sleeping around with everyone and it is a pop culture phenomenon, but don’t let us see our true enemies and how awful they are.
On the evening of September eleventh 2001, lawmakers both Republican and Democrat stood together in Washington DC and sang together with American spirit, unified. President Bush vowed to bring out a can of whoop a** on any nation that supported terrorism. Families in New York searched for missing loved ones as those of us on the other end of the country bit our lower lip knowing that those people were most likely gone forever.
As I sit writing this blog entry I remember those awful feelings I felt for those lost that day. I remember the hopelessness I felt for those murdered in the planes and in the buildings. I remember feeling for the wives and husbands who played those messages of their loved ones saying, “I love you honey, I won’t be coming home” or “I don’t know what’s happening here but I love you”. I guess what I don’t understand is why people so much closer to New York and the Pentagon don’t remember those things. Specifically I am referring to politicians. Do you realize that the man responsible for all of this pain is still free?
In a time of national crisis such as 9/11 and even a local tragedy like Columbine, national leaders stand up and talk about how important life is compared to anything else. They talk about America’s resolve and our spirit to keep going. Why then does nothing change?
Nine years after we were bombed with our own human projectiles, half the can of Whoop A** is still on the shelf, Osama is at large, thousands of our troops are dead and gone, people are out of work and losing their homes, criminals in disguise as bankers are prospering with our tax money after robbing us blind, and Republicans and Democrats are still bickering like kids over party lines regardless of what is best for the country. Thank God though that we took out Sadaam who had nothing to do with 911 that we know of for sure. We have installed major security protocols in airports yet illegals are being allowed across the border and being PAID to do it in the form of free medical and welfare. I kind of wish I had come over the border and wasn’t born here because the illegals have it better than I do. When someone like Arizona tries to do something about it they are condemned.
I didn’t go to college but in my opinion the other team is winning.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Get on the Chuck Wagon

I just became addicted to Chuck this year and by addicted I mean super obsessed. This show literally dimmed other shows to me, making favorite shows seem sub-par. Of course as an online film and TV critic I know about the shaky start Chuck has had with ratings. I don't understand the lack of ratings but okay I get it.

This season Chuck is fighting for his life yet again and I can't let him die being the fan that I am and the short amount of time I have had with team Bartowski. Besides, Chuck's career as a spy is just beginning. As the owner of reelfans.com I have to try to help. My first plan of attack is @CHUCK_Wagon on Twitter. Each follower will act as a signature for a petition. Before decisions are made I will send my followers list to NBC, provided I'm not sending only twenty names to the big wigs in H-town, we need hundreds and/or thousands. I have yet to devise part two. I have posted an article in the TV section at http://www.reelfans.com asking how we can save Chuck. If you as a reader have an idea, by all means write it in the comments on that article page.

NBC wants to see that large crowds are watching Chuck. I don't know anyone that has started at season one on DVD or watched live from the beginning who is not in love with this show. Your TIVO recordings don't count to the network though. Even though you may watch religiously, the advertisers are not being satisfied that you are being fully exposed to their products. We may have to get in touch with the sponsors and let them know how many people are actually seeing their ads. I am grasping at straws, but in the end we will succeed. If you haven't already voted at eonline.com for Chuck go to http://www.eonline.com and click the "Save One Show" link in "Watch With Kristen" and vote. Also write #SOSCHUCK in your Tweets. There are also some Chuck support shirts at http://www.cafepress.com/reelfans, but the main concern is voting at eonline and following the @CHUCK_Wagon.

My next blog will be on another topic, but we must overcome...


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Save Chuck A Seamingly Impossible Task

Is it possible to save Chuck on NBC? I mean really save it. Every season of this incredible show gets better and better and of course every season, fans are faced with the possible threat of cancellation. Last season it actually happened but the fans (with the help of Subway) pulled together and breathed life (with ham on white) back into the helpless victim of the show eating peacock. Why does NBC throw away such good entertainment? For example they sent Scrubs to it's near death by moving it from time slot to time slot until no one knew if, or when the show would be on at all. ABC tried to revive Scrubs but by then, I believe the damage was done. Now Scrubs is nothing more (to me) than a bad attempt to continue on without it's star on a new network. On top of that, I don't have to remind you what happened to a certain red headed late-night step-child when he made a deal with the peacock do I?

How many great shows have started slow and ended up hits? It seems a little NBC show called Seinfeld did that many years ago. How can you take the work of so many talented people and flush it when it has such a devoted fan base? Mind you, I understand an awful show being canceled, but really can Chuck be considered an awful show? No way.

The fact of the matter is, ad money gives the thumbs up or down to shows. It doesn't matter that the show has a great cast and an incredible story. What matters is that you buy crap that you see on TV. If official ratings are low that means sponsors may not be selling their crap. Not only that but according to Chuck himself, Zachary Levi speaking at Wondercon on Sunday, the network and sponsors really only pay attention to live ratings. DVR recordings are considered non-advertising viewings because of the fast forward button and even on Hulu.com there is only one real ad per break.

Keeping this fact in mind, how do the fans win? What is a big enough fan base? Should live-only data of a limited Nielsen network decide the fate of good shows (and actor's/crew jobs)? What about my rabbit ears? What is the alternative? For "Chuck" fans, writers in essence wrote a series finale and then the show was extended by six episodes according to the creators of the show. Extended by six episodes yet the show is still in jeopardy? The sad part about "Chuck" is that sometimes when the love story is satisfied, that is the kiss of death for shows. If you haven't seen yet, in the latest episode Chuck and Sarah finally get together near the Eiffel Tower, satisfying two of Chuck's life goals. What now? Do we get to watch the relationship roller coaster around until the show finally does end? If I may interject to the writers as a huge fan, just let Sarah and Chuck be together as they were in season one, happy without complications. We like it like it when Chuck is happy, we don't need Sarah being mean to our hero while kissing another man. Back to the point, is it right that fear of cancellation determines the creativity of the writers? There is a sure way to make a show bomb, right.

I have a couple of solutions. First, what about viewer supported shows with minimal sponsors? Why do companies have to be the sole sponsors in this instant payment age of Paypal and Ebay? Second, product placement instead of commercials. I would be happy to watch Chuck eat a Subway sandwich working on a Mac laptop listening to his ipod and drinking a Coke in Morgan's Prius that won't stop if that meant no commercials. The network could keep a central break for the feminine hygiene products and insurance companies. No sponsor, no show, right? My fear is that NBC is canceling shows as a preemptive strike without sponsor input. Of course that is as I said a fear and not necessarily fact.

This is a new age NBC (and all networks for that matter), let's try to think outside the box a little. After all, you need your consumers happy just as much as you need your sponsors happy. After O'Brien VS Leno, you really should work on that image before no one wants to play with you...

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Future of Video and Heading to Wondercon

I saw today that Netflix won't have Sherlock Holmes available for another month (4/27). In the meantime the movie is out for sale (3/30 released). What does this say about the future of movie rentals? My local Hollywood video is closing as is one of our local Blockbusters. This means less locations for rental and no Netflix yet for this movie. Is this going to set a standard for new releases or is this an error or just an ill conceived gimmick by WB.
I have to say that if this is the new plan to make quicker money from sales on Blu-Ray and DVD, I don't like it. I don't always want to buy a movie that I haven't seen (I did see this one already in theaters, see my review at reelfans.com---end plug), sometimes I want to rent first. Don't force me to buy a movie or wait a month movie studios, this is not cool. If this becomes common practice I will have to become some sort of video activist that doesn't wear underwear and boycott my local movie retailer. I hate that stuff. Please don't do this movie studios. Do they have to suck every dollar the general public has in the name of entertainment?
Heading to Wondercon
Tomorrow morning I will pack up my cameras and recording devices as well as a few comics from my "Spirit Knight" days and head down to Wondercon in San Francisco. Every year me, my son Michael and Bryan from Reelfans have a table for our "Spirit Knight" comic mini series. This year we are promoting Reelfans.com as well. We will be offering the chance to win a Sony PSP just for signing up on reelfans, of course there will be a drawing. We also want the general public to help come up with a commercial for the new release of the website. Our plan is to reward the winner with a press screening of Iron Man 2. I am looking forward to a fun weekend filled with costumed characters and 1980's celebrities. Just a few more hours to wait.